Remembering Pat Dye
When Auburn alumni and friends think of the late Pat Dye, they almost
always remember him as one of the greatest Tiger football coaches
ever, with a won-loss record of 99-39-4 and four SEC Championships to his credit during his 11-year tenure as head coach and 10 years in a dual role as Auburn athletic director. In 1989, Dye also earned an everlasting place in Tiger football history for his role in bringing the first Iron Bowl to the Plains, a game Auburn won 30-20.
But Dye, a Georgia native and University of Georgia graduate who became an unabashed Auburn man before passing away June 1 at age 80, contributed so much more to the university in other areas than most people realize. One of those areas was the Auburn College of Veterinary Medicine.
Having grown up on a farm in Blythe, Georgia, Dye always had a farmer’s interest in animals and livestock, and he formed a close relationship over the years with several Auburn faculty members including Dr. Reid Hanson, Dr. Dwight Wolfe, Dr. Jimmy Milton and Dr. Bobby Horne. He also became good friends with Pike Road, Alabama, veterinarian Dr. Haywood “Woody” Bartlett, and served with him on the advisory council of the J. T. Vaughan Large Animal Teaching Hospital for more than a decade. As a longtime member of the council, Dye gave generously of his time and talents.
Dye also regularly attended Vet Med Centennial Club events and even hosted two member gatherings at his Crooked Oaks Farm in Notasulga, Alabama. Dean Calvin Johnson recalls that Dye often said that winning football championships was great, but nothing made him prouder than his philanthropy to benefit Auburn Vet Med and seeing the positive impact those efforts had on the college.
“I had the opportunity to get to know Coach Dye during our trips to Wyoming for Woody Bartlett’s colt-starting clinics,” said Johnson. “I’ll never forget him looking me squarely in the eye and telling me…
‘The Auburn College of Veterinary Medicine needs to be number one. There’s no reason we shouldn’t be at the top. You’ve got the best vets, the best faculty and the best students. Everybody is behind you.’
“I’ve often thought about Coach Dye’s charge to me that day,” Johnson added, “and I agree with him. In his famous speech after the 1989 victory over Alabama, Dye told his players, ‘This is the reason we push you beyond what you think you can do, to experience moments like this. Ain’t no easy way in life and it wasn’t easy out there tonight, but you were prepared for the task at hand. I ain’t smart enough to tell you how I feel about you. Because it’s family. Every one of you. And you know it.’ Coach Dye’s sentiments about his football team have become my sentiments about the Auburn Vet Med Family. And we should all be thankful for the life and influence of Patrick Fain Dye.”